Self-myofascial release

Self Myofascial Release

Victor Kizer


By definition, Self-myofascial release, or SMR, is defined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) as “a flexibility technique used to inhibit overactive muscle fibers.  SMR has been receiving a lot of attention in the sports performance and fitness realms due to their ability to assist with correcting muscle imbalances through a progressive and systematic corrective exercise protocol.  While there are many forms of self-myofascial release, I’ll discuss foam rolling here.

Whenever you have tissue trauma, which is often brought on by improper movement patterns, overuse or intense exercise, adhesions (knots) form in the muscle tissue.  The body creates inflammation try to resolve the issues in this area.  This can cause muscle spasms, which lead to the above mentioned adhesions.  The adhesions alter your body’s programed movement patters and you start to move incorrectly, creating more stress; known as the cumulative injury cycle.  The purpose of foam rolling is to (1) alleviate the side effects of active or latent trigger points and (2) to influence the autonomic nervous system.

Picture the fibers of your muscle as a rubber band.  The more knots you place in that rubber band, the tighter and shorter it becomes.  The issue with this is that you have muscles working together on both sides of your bones to ensure movements are performed efficiently.  If one muscle is shortened (agonist), the other side (antagonist) is stretched.  This altered length-tension relationship affects the special sensors in your muscles (muscle spindles) and tendons (GTO) that are responsible for protecting your muscles and joints.  You can see where this would cause more stress and perpetuate the cumulative injury cycle.

Foam rolling is performed by putting a tolerable amount of pressure on your soft muscle tissue and fascia through the use of a high-density foam roll, lacrosse ball or other object designed for trigger point therapy.  Roll your body over the object at a slow pace, covering roughly 1 inch per second.  You will feel a lot of pain or pressure when rolling over the above mentioned adhesions.  Spend roughly 30 seconds per painful body part.  Utilize foam rolling as an integral part of your warm-up and you will be feeling better in no time.

This is a very brief description of self-myofascial release.  For more information on SMR, please feel free to email me at or find me on Facebook at